IN THIS WAR YOUR ARMOR COUNTS
by Dr. Henderson Ward
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It has been said of some believers that they have a “thin skin” meaning that things of an adverse nature gets to them and provoke a reaction. When dealing with the Devil and his demons it is more than a suggestion, it is a bounding duty and may be described in even more compelling terms; it is a divine instruction to wrap yourself in super-natural armor as you face the enemy. God does not lead his believers into battle without them having suitable protection for he knows that the Devil and his demons are crafty and would exploit any deficiency in our body armor.
As a soldier of The Cross, and remember our battle is spiritual, our armor (used figuratively to indicate the complete provision of spiritual virtues with which God endows His child for the war against evil) is designed to protect us in several ways; much like an ordinary soldier in the military:
1. From direct hits, which occur frequently, and come at us from the Devil and his demons and is ongoing.
2. From indirect hits, which impact us but were meant for others, somewhat like what ordinary soldiers regard as “collateral damage”
3. From “booby traps” which are meant for the unwary and careless but nevertheless can inflict terrible injuries or death.
4. From confusion and disorientation much as happens in war when road signs are reversed or removed.
5. From miss-communication, as when the message sent is not the one received, and serious consequences can result.
6. From errors however caused, being aware that the Devil and his demons use errors as powerful weapons against believers.
7. From fear and lack of confidence which, if present, can debilitate and defeat the mightiest of armies.
8. From distrust because ultimately our faith and trust is what will deliver to us, as believers, the victory over the Devil and his demons.
So what is this armor like that we are to use to protect ourselves? Without further ado we will let the Bible inform us. “Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Ephesians 6:11-18)
The first piece of armor mentioned is the belt of truth, “having your loins girt about with truth” for believers are not in the business of falsehoods, lies and deceptions but rather indulge in and rejoice in truth. At the deeper level the Word of God is truth and we as believers are standing firmly on that truth; test everything by that truth and rely on truth for our strength and success. “Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now – always.” – Albert Schweitzer, 1875-1965, French theologian. The armor of truth that encapsulates the believer is not just the forerunner of all the other virtues but it’s the fertile ground enabling them all to take root and develop.
The next piece of armor the believer is to put on is the breastplate of righteousness and this has to do with moral uprightness, sound integrity, blameless standing before God and virtuous living. If we live in a way that permits our conscience to be void of offence towards God and man then the Devil’s vicious arrows will find no target, cause no discomfiture and become totally ineffective. Where powerful rhetoric and sublime philosophy fail to convince then righteous, practical living shows its persuasiveness. “Live among men as if God beheld you; speak to God as if men were listening” – Seneca, 4BC- 65AD, Roman author.
The soldier’s feet are normally very vulnerable, especially if he is walking through the enemy’s territory, and the same applies to the soldier of Jesus Christ. The next piece of armor is designed for the feet as you travel through enemy territory, “your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” This armor allows us to take the good news of the gospel into enemy territory, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15) it is entering the domain of the Devil and assaulting the bastion of oppression, fear, disharmony and strife. This approach is summed up most succinctly in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Every believer would be at the mercy of the Devil and his demons without this next armor for it deals with the virtue that is most essential, without which no one can please God, i.e. faith, “Above all, taking the shield of faith…” With this most useful of armor, comprising of our confidence in the majestic work of Jesus and founded on the reliable promises and performance of God through the ages, we are able to withstand anything thrown at us by the enemy. It is unlikely that you will go through any lengthy period without your faith being tested again and again for a breach in your faith is a terrible weakness in your defense. The Devil will probe your faith with persistence and cunning; you will be assaulted with doubts, with anxieties, with fears and with unlimited trials. Your faith, if weak and uncertain, will soon collapse and leave you defenseless, and for this reason you are to strengthen your faith in the Lord by reading and meditating on the Bible daily with prayer and supplication. We must learn to trust God, “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’. And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way’ – Minnie Louise Haskins, 1875-1957, US writer.
Everyone recognizes the importance of the head and gives it necessary protection from injury by providing it with protection. The next piece of armor God provides for the believer is the helmet of salvation and this piece of equipment is so vital that Jesus himself is integral to its effectiveness. The salvation helmet and Jesus go hand in hand, and regardless of the intensity of the battle, or the length of individual battles, the believer will always triumph because our salvation is planned by God, established by Jesus and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. With this helmet the believer will not back down, will not be daunted, will not capitulate because he knows the reality of the situation, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” John affirms in 1 John 4:4 and ultimately it is God who will deliver the victory, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6)
With such splendid armor you would think that the believer is complete, not wanting in any area but God does not operate by half measures and so he gives the believer more. The next piece of armor is quite lethal, “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” and with this the enemy is chopped to bits and vanquished. The Devil and his demons fear many things but above all they are terrified of Jesus along with the Word of God, the Bible, for they know it's awesome power, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) When Jesus was about to begin his ministry the Devil, in one of his few direct approaches, came to Jesus with some mighty temptations to scupper God's redemptive plans but Jesus used the Bible with telling effect each time. When the Devil made a proposal Jesus responded with, “It is written” and after the third time the Devil was so distressed that he went away for a season. Such is the magnificent power of the eternal Word of God.
So here we have it, the complete, reliable armor with which God surrounds his children and each and every believer is to make sure he is wearing the full armor at all times. As long as we are fully protected we can now battle with the Devil, not fearing anything that he can do, or any weapon that he may use, for we are confident that, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper…” (Isaiah 54:17a) Being fully equipped to handle anything and everything we are now ready to commence our campaign against the Devil and his demons. The enemy is now seen in proper perspective, not as some indestructible force, some juggernaut taking all before it, but as someone who has been soundly defeated by Jesus Christ our captain, thoroughly humiliated and put to flight; and his demons whipped into pitiful subjection. With our armor in place, and standing in a right relationship with God, we are supremely confident that no matter what we have to face from the enemy we will overcome and conquer because “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
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